Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chopsticks in Japan: An Insider's Tip

In Japan, you're never supposed to pass food to someone with chopsticks. I had learned this in college, and had seen many Japanese parents teach this rule to their children, but I had forgotten the reasons behind it.

When my wife's mother passed away I was reminded of the origin of the taboo. After her body was cremated, everyone in the family, including her great-grandchildren, picked up her remaining bones with chopsticks and passed them to a priestess, who used chopsticks to place the bones into an urn.

To offer someone food when it’s out of reach, pass the plate it’s on so they may reach it with their chopsticks. Never use your chopsticks to pass food and expect someone to receive it with theirs.

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